The moral of the story: The Marlins are probably going to suck, but could accidentally make the playoffs.
Lewis is involved with a lot of cool sports stuff on the net, but I think he’s underestimating the Marlins a bit. It’s possible that I’m misinterpreting his humor as actual digs at the Marlins, but I’ll use his commentary as my foil for today’s book promotion because I think discounting the Marlins is all too common. While we often hear about the ability of the Oakland A’s and Minnesota Twins to win on a small budget, the Marlins are rarely mentioned in the conversation.
When thinking about the Marlins organization, it’s easy to be distracted by their antagonistic relationship with the Miami community. I don’t admire this aspect of the franchise, but I am amazed at the efficiency with which the Marlins operate. In The Baseball Economist, I develop a organizational-rating method that reveals the Marlins as MLB’s best-managed franchise in baseball. Over the past four seasons the Marlins have won an average of 84 games with an average payroll of only $41 million, which is about 40% less than the MLB average payroll. Over this same period, this is 5 games more than Lewis’s beloved New York Mets, who averaged a payroll of $104 million—that’s about 40% more than the MLB average. Maybe the Mets should use their budget to target Marlins executives instead of free agents.
The moral of the story: the Marlins winning ways are no accident. This is a well-run organization that knows how to manage its resources. That this front office doesn’t get more attention for its excellence is surprising.